Seán Óg Ó hAilpín still stands over his recent criticisms of the Cork senior hurlers.
Ó hAilpín was under fire after an interview which appeared on the day Cork played Clare in the Munster SHC semi-final, where he reiterated his disappointment at the omission of clubmate John Gardiner from the panel.
However the All-Ireland winning captain backed up his “straightforward” comments but sought to clarify his motives for giving the interview and was particularly keen to address the poor timing of its publication.
“It wasn’t the night before the match when I did that interview, I did that interview three weeks before, and whether Cork won or lost, that’s not going to change my view,” Ó hAilpín said at the recent Sinn Féin Summer School in Ballyvourney. “I was asked for an opinion on John Gardiner, I gave my honest opinion. Anyone that knows me knows I’m as honest as they come. Whether Cork lost or won, I wasn’t going to change my opinion and if I was asked the same question again, I’d still give the same answer. It mightn’t have been popular among people but I’d rather me being straightforward than beating around the bush.
“So congratulations and fair play to Cork but again, the outcome had no bearing on the opinion that I gave.”
While Ó hAilpín criticised Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s decision to exclude Gardiner, he noted his former manager’s experience of dealing with a similar transition from one generation to the next and from disappointment to success.
“Jimmy was in his fourth year in 1999 when we won the Munster and All-Ireland titles. So the first two to three years were harsh years; we weren’t competing well and we didn’t win.
“Jimmy was in that same scenario when he took over last year. Cork are coming on from a base, but they haven’t won anything for the last couple of years and they’re a young side.
“If there’s a fellow who has experience of that same scenario to bring them through a tough period, he has it from 1999.”
Ó hAilpín was happy to see his former teammates dispel doubts about their form after relegation from Division 1A of the league and sees the Clare win as a launchpad in a wide open championship.
“Leading up to the game, there was a question mark about what Cork were going to bring to the table. They needed to bring their A game and they did, and were a better team for it. It sets up a lovely clash against Limerick in the Munster final. It will be a tough game but it’s a young enough team and, for a developing young lad, that type of result would give them huge confidence. It’s wide open and either team will fancy their chances. So it’ll make for a great Munster final.”
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